Bottlenecks before democracy
Over the past decades, the ability of liberal democracies around the world to translate popular views into public policy has significantly declined.Functioning and representative democracy is almost absent somewhere. Demand for improved and deliberative democracy has been long felt among people across the world.
Despite the overwhelming need and desire for democracy, it seems to be shrinking. Politics is becoming increasingly polarized, and in many places, democratic freedoms are being taken away.In a time when we are facing intractable global issues such as climate change, violent warfare and growing inequality, it seems that now more than ever we need to implement and improve systems of democracy that truly work.When we are trying to do this we are facing so many problems.
Until the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the future of democracy - and with it the role of the state - was severely put into question, its crisis often claimed. In many countries, distrust in public institutions and elites were on the rise; among other things, this has resulted in the increasing support and electoral success of populist, nationalist, and authoritarian leaders, which demonstrate the level of alienation from basic democratic values, procedures, and institutions evident amongst the public.
Discrimination at every level like discrimination over political or sexual identity majorly affects democracy. It also causes people's distrust.
Another big problem is big businesses. Big businesses continue to gain power and wield influence in policy and political campaigns. The more influence big businesses gain, more economic inequality hits population leading to social and political inequality as well.
Discrimination by age is another factor to consider. According to CIVICUS, 42% of the world's population is under the age of 25, but the majority of these people are not able to run office or vote.
Another major problem is that, national governments seem to be retreating from global institutions.
For example, the UK left the EU and Israel announced their plan to leave UNESCO. According to CIVICUS, "Limited international democracy allows repressive leaders to downplay criticism from the international community�" Further, global democracy is an essential component to solving global issues, and as nations isolate themselves they become less accountable by international standards.
The judiciary is losing its independence. The election commissions, the anti-corruption commissions and the human rights commissions are not able to stand up to the pressure of the executive. Political parties are not practicing democracy internally, nor are they promoting democracy in the country. Instead, they have turned into instruments of patronage distribution to supporters and intimidators of opponents.
The V. Dem report identifies three new challenges for democracy. First, more and more governments are trying to control or manipulate the media, and civil society; the rule of law, and the credibility of the electoral process is eroding. Second, there is toxic polarisation in public spaces where society is getting divided into distrustful and antagonistic camps; political leaders are using hate speech and disrespect for opposite views, and public reasoning is declining. Third, digitalisation is enabling the spread of misinformation and compromising the electoral processes even in "consolidated" democracies such as in the USA. The V. Dem report identifies media censorship and repression of civil society as early warning signals of heightened autocratisation.
We have now realised that by putting too much focus on only one aspect of democracy-rule by civilian political leaders elected through regular elections-we have neglected to uphold other equally important aspects of democracy i.e. rule of law, fundamental freedoms, independence and neutrality of the judiciary and other institutions of horizontal accountability-an open pluralistic civil society, free mass media, freedom of expression and so on. As a result, it has been relatively easy for many "minimalist" democracies to backslide into autocracies.
More than ever, we are feeling importance of youth leader. We are in the position where we need more dynamic leader and more careful individual who knows what is being done and the consequences of the work.
If accountability of institutions such as the parliament, judiciary, human rights commission, anti-corruption commission, election commission, political parties, free media and civil society isstrengthened democracy could survive in this world.
Democracy can be complicated and even messy at times, but it is an essential human right. Improving democracy means improving standards of living, national and global economies, and security. As society evolves democracy is a must, and as we've seen the successful strides citizens have made, we can be empowered by knowledge to bring about meaningful changes.
The writer is a freelance contributor